Trigger Narratives and the Nuclear Option

We use the phrase nuclear option rather casually as an everyday metaphor for highly consequential, irreversible and consciously triggered decisions. But chances are, you’ve never actually considered how the actual nuclear option is managed. The turning of this one little key — the picture is of an an actual nuclear trigger —  is easily the most analyzed decision in history. The design of the decision process around it is one of the greatest feats of narrative engineering every accomplished. That the trigger has  (knock on wood) not been pulled since World War II is an engineering accomplishment comparable to the Moon landing.

The nuclear option is the most extreme example of a special kind of decision narrative that I call a trigger narrative: one built around a major decision requires an explicit triggering action after all the preparation is done: things like proposing marriage, submitting a manuscript to an editor or issuing a press release. Not all major decisions are framed by trigger narratives, but for those that are, the nuclear trigger narrative has much to teach.

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